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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Should physician decisions be constrained by costs?

This is the problem with health care in the first place. How much is health worth? If you had a disease, and there was a cure, and only one cure, how much should the person with the cure be able to charge? And if there was a cure to one disease, would it be worth the cost of the cure if you had other issues that might take your life anyway? In other words, if you are 100 years old and need a heart transplant, should insurance be responsible for paying for the surgery even though your life expectancy might not be more than a year or two even with a healthy original heart?

This is a good article and it brings up the important questions. However, it brings them up in the context that insurance companies are evil. If we ever get universal health care, you can bet that the government will be making these same judgment calls as the insurance companies do now concerning who gets treatment and who doesn't. How much is health worth? That is the question that is very difficult to answer. Enjoy the article that hits on important points.

Should physician decisions be constrained by costs?

President-elect, St. Louis Metropolitan Medical Society

Physicians routinely make clinical decisions for their patients. These decisions are based on many variables, including efficacy, safety, disease-to-disease, drug-to-disease interactions, outcome desired and, of course, cost.

The patient's best interest — the best possible outcome for the condition evaluated or treated — remains the pivotal and most important focus point of each and every decision.

Physicians often prescribe less-costly therapies, as is the case with some generic substitutions, when these therapies are determined to provide similarly optimal outcomes for the patient.

Moreover, when physicians prescribe a costly test or treatment, they have often determined that the optimal outcome for the patient certainly outweighs the expense, and is worth the cost.

Continue reading the article here.

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